Paralympic Swimmer Ellie Simmonds Awarded Honorary Degree

Ellie Simmonds with her diploma (Photo: Swansea University)

SWANSEA, Wales, United Kingdom – Paralympic Champion swimmer Ellie Simmonds has been awarded an honorary degree from Swansea University, the town she lived in as a teenager when she began her Parlaympic career.

Simmonds wasn’t just tied to the city of Swansea, but to the University itself, using the sports facilities of the campus as her training brace. That was the same pool that the IPC Swimming Championships were held at, giving Simmonds a strong base for good performances there.

“We are very proud that Ellie has used the university’s sports village, home to the Wales National Pool Swansea, as the base for her training, where the university hosted the International Paralympic Championships in 2014,” said Swansea University senior pro-vice-chancellor Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott. “We at the university certainly have a special admiration for Ellie, and we are immensely proud to welcome such an inspirational figure into our honorary fellowship.”

The degree was given because of her ties to the University and the way she has “captured the hearts and minds of the British public” said Lappin-Scott. While often considered for a lifetime of work at 23 Simmonds is hardly done, winning gold in the 2016 Paralympic Games, looking like entering at least one more time in the 2020 Paralympic Games.

This is not the first major honor for Simmonds, who is now an OBE, having been given significant honors from Queen Elizabeth II twice. At 14 she was the youngest ever MBE recipient, before that was upgraded to an OBE after the London Paralympic Games in 2012.


Stephanie Dixon to Receive Order of Canada

Stephanie Dixon celebrates gold at Beijing 2008 (Photo: Zimbio)

WHITEHORSE, Yukon, Canada – Canadian swimmer Stephanie Dixon has received one of Canada’s highest honors as she was named to the New Year’s Honors list which was released on Tuesday, being awarded the second highest honor in Canada, the Order of Canada.

About one year ago, Dixon was nominated by one of the managers of the Canadian Paralympic swim team for the honor. But she did not think that she had a chance of winning the award, continuing her life, ending up getting the news in a coffee shop in Whitehorse.

“Tears started to fill my eyes, this is wild,” Dixon said to the Whitehorse Daily Star. “It did come as a bit of a surprise to be honest. I don’t think anyone’s goal is ever to be receiving the Order of Canada.”

Dixon won 19 medals at the Paralympic Games, and receives the honor along with 124 others who will be travelling to Ottawa to formally get the honor from the Governor-General. The honor was given for her excellence in swimming and parasport advocacy.

Winning her first medals as a 16-year-old, Dixon came to attention at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, winning five gold medals, and two silvers. Dixon also set three world records in that first Paralympics appearance, in the 100 and 400m freestyle, and the 100m backstroke.

Following her retirement after the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, Dixon continued her involvement in swimming moving to the Yukon and coaching at the Glacier Bears before moving on to the Yukon Graylings Masters club. That continued involvement pushed her into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and her receiving this honor continues Canada’s push to show the diversity of its citizens in its honors lists.

Australia Implicated in Swimming Cheating Scandal

Photo: SwimSwam

BELCONNEN, ACT, Australia – Swimming Australia has been the latest organization pulled into the para swimming cheating scandal, with allegations of faking classification tests to get an ‘easier’ classification and thus more medals.

The revelation came through Australian public broadcaster the ABC with allegations made on The Ticket program. A number of swimmers and parents expressed concerns similar to those alleged in the United Kingdom with a recent parliamentary enquiry.

Australian swimming coach Simon Watkins has coached at Paralympic level and spoke on the show about cheating, and how it is widespread, and a common discussion topic, although declined to name if it was happening in Australia. For its part Swimming Australia has responded, saying that cheating will not be tolerated.

One swimmer spoke about being coached to ‘enhance’ the impairment of disability before classification, using methods like exhaustion to make the impairment appear more serious. The accusations she made ventured into more serious territory including athletes not taking medication.

Another common trend in this sort of story continued in Australia, with threats toward those raising the concerns. In Australia It was threats of breaching classification rules, ironically, allegedly used to silence the critics, which led to turning to the ABC, and the International Paralympic Committee.

Swimming Australia’s response to these allegations was that cheating will not be tolerated, although stopped short of saying outright that swimmers and coaches would be banned.

“If we knew of the situation, and the coaches, we would respond immediately and extremely strongly,” said Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson.

In Australia winning more medals at the Paralympic Games results in more funding (despite the disparity in the number of events each sport is eligible to win). As a result swimming is the highest funded sport, and hence there may be an incentive for such schemes.

The allegations will no doubt be examined as part of the International Paralympic Committee review of swimming, but these allegations are not different to many other countries.

IPC Reschedules Para Swimming and Powerlifting World Championships

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced new dates for the World Para Swimming and World Para Powerlifting Championships to be held in Mexico City as the 2017 Para Sport Festival.

The events were postponed due to the earthquake in Mexico City last month and will now take place from the 27th of November to the 7th of December. Both events will remain in Mexico City with no worries about the venues being damaged in the earthquake.

Originally the event was slated to begin on the 30th of September through to the 6th of October, but the earthquake which hit Mexico City on the 19th of September made it an unsafe environment to host the event, leading to the postponement.

After announcing the changed event date teams now have a new date to submit their final squads to the IPC, they will have until Sunday (October 8th) to finalize and register their squads ahead of the events.

“After extensive dialogue, it is clear that both the Local Organising Committee and City Mexico are eager and very passionate about rescheduling the 2017 Para Sport Festival,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons. They want to show to the world that Mexico City is open and that life and business is continuing. At the same time, the feedback from the IPC membership is that they are keen for the Championships to go ahead.”

“After carrying out all of the necessary safety checks on the venues, team hotels and all related infrastructure, we have decided to reschedule the Championships for two months later than originally planned.”

The decision was taken as part of solidarity with Mexico City, to continue the IPCs effort to support the city as it recovers from the earthquake, with the Agitos Foundation raising $40,000.


Ten World Records fall at World Para Swimming World Series Berlin

The start of the 100m freestyle in Berlin (Photo: World Para Swimming)

Saturday saw ten more world records fall at the World Para Swimming World Series event in Berlin, the final event before the World Championships at the end of the month.

Yet again the action was tight with a plethora of world records with Monica Boggioni, the Italian teenager won yet again. She continued on from her 200m freestyle win on Thursday with a win in the 150m individual medley, winning and setting a new world record of SM4 of 2:46.73.

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Indy World Para Swimming World Series Event Wraps up

Lakeisha Patterson (Photo: Creative Commons)

Australian Lakeisha Patterson continued her form at the Indianapolis Swimming World Series which concluded on Sunday as she claimed two more gold medals.

Patterson claimed her first gold in the women’s 100m freestyle S8 easily beating out American Julia Gaffney with 1:06.19. She then came out later in the night and won the 100m butterfly S8 with a time of 1:18.61 beating Canadian Danielle Dorris and Colombian Laura Rodriguez.

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Charlotte Henshaw Switches Swimming for Canoeing

Charlotte Henshaw (Photo: University of Salford Press, Creative Commons License)

There has been a big change in Great Britain as Paralympic medallist Charlotte Henshaw announced she will be switching from swimming to canoeing going forward, she announced on Tuesday.

Hernshaw won a silver medal in London and a bronze medal in Rio for the 100m breaststroke SB6 and this week confirmed her retirement from the sport. In Rio she was identified by British Canoeing as a prospect and has now joined their Talent Confirmation Programme.

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